Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Supreme Court Parody of Gilbert & Sullivan

Legal Times reports that John Barrett of St. John’s University School of Law in NY recently found a parody of a song from The Mikado written by Chief Justice William Rehnquist in 1953 in the papers of Justice Robert Jackson at the Library of Congress. Barrett’s article A Rehnquist Ode on the Vinson Court (Circa Summer 1953), Green Bag 2d, Vol. 11, p. 289 (2008) is available at SSRN. The full text of the parody for all you fans of Gilbert & Sullivan is here.

PARODY: Tune, Pish Tush’s solo from Act I of Mikado
(“Our great mikado, virtuous man, etc.”)
Our Great Chief Justice, Virtuous Man
When He to Rule Our Court Began
Resolved to try
A plan whereby
The Judges might be steadied

So he decreed with stern portent
That who thereafter did dissent
Unless he had the Chief’s consent
Would forthwith be beheaded

This hard decree, of such import
Caused great dismay throughout the court
Verbose and mum, and smart and dumb
Were equally affected

The judges who by F.D.R.
Had come to lord it o’er the bar
Took great offense
At this pretense
By one whom Harry’d selected

Now Stanley Reed evades the ban
In about the only way he can
“Without a label
No one is able
To tell if I’m dissenting”

And Bill and Hugo wrote the Chief
“It is our most considered belief
Your rule has taint
of prior restraint
To it we’re not consenting”

Felix too was up in arms
When Fred stood fast against his charms
“My weekly speech
Should rightly reach
The ears of errant lawyers”

R.H.J. the Chief embraced
“With this restriction on me placed
With Shay and you
I’ll now pursue
The vagaries of baseball.”

1 comment:

Jeff Lunger said...

Excellent! In the true spirit of WS Gilbert, (social satire was G&S's intent as well), and wonderful use of language and understanding of his form. Bravo!!